Friday, November 28, 2008

New CD

I just ran out to throw out my trash before going to bed and found I had a little present in my mailbox! The new Alathea Christmas CD. So, instead of going to bed as I should be doing at this hour, I am listening to my new CD, checking email, Facebook, and my blog. I am really enjoying it! You can check it out here

Monday, November 24, 2008


It was my turn to share the message on Sunday morning. We are working our way through John and I finished up chapter 4 this week. I focused on the word believe. The kanji (Chinese character) for believe is really cool and has an interesting history, according to Mr. Suzuki, one of the former teachers at the Karuizawa Language School.

The kanji looks like this:

The character is made up of two parts. The left side means person and the right side means word. However, the character for word also has two parts. The top part is heart and the bottom is mouth. Mr. Suzuki said that the whole character, therefore, came to mean the agreement of a person's deeds and words which come from the heart. (I think Jesus said something about what comes out of one's mouth comes from the heart-see Matthew 15:18).

This character is also one of the two characters in the Japanese word 'faith.' The other character means to look upward at something or someone, to look up to someone or to God, to respect, and to adore.
Just a little Japanese lesson for you today!

Friday, November 21, 2008


"What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27

I started with that verse because what I am planning to write about seems to be an impossibility. Praise the Lord we serve the God who loves to do the impossible!

In the summer issue of Japan Harvest, the magazine written for and by missionaries in Japan, one missionary wrote about the annual report of the church information service. As many of you already know, I am not a numbers person at all. (The running joke in our mission family is that Shan can go into a convenience store, buy a drink, and not remember how much it cost when she gets back into the car!) So, as I comment on this, know I am looking at the magazine right in front of me and trusting the author of the article to have explained it properly.

According to the report there were 8,665,000 people in Osaka in 2007. (I am just commenting on Osaka since that is where I live.) For those 8.6 million people there are 574 churches. According to the chart that means there is one church per 15,000 people. In this prefecture of 8.6 million people about 26,000 attend church regularly.

Looking at the number of baptisms last year in all of Japan it averages out to one person becoming a Christian every hour. However, in that same hour 115 people die without knowing Jesus.

As the author of the article said, this paints a pretty gloomy picture of Christianity in Japan. (His predictions of what the future looks like if we continue in this same rate of growth paints an even darker picture.) However, he choses to look at the positive side and use this data as a wake up call.

The future of evangelism in Japan needs to be different. Lay evangelism needs to become a central part of outreach here. We cannot leave evangelism to just the professional pastor and missionary. How do we do this in a culture based on hierarchy in relationships, in a culture based on respecting and not questioning leaders?

I don't know. But I do know that I serve the God of the impossible and He will continue to guide and teach. And, the picture of the future of believers in Japan is getting lighter!

Pray to the God of the harvest to send workers-including lay leaders!-into the field!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vote for me!

Okay, you have seen my picture with the leaves. The real reason I took the picture was for a contest on Coffeegirl Confessions' blog. So, go to the blog link on the left side of my blog. Click on Coffeegirl Confessions. Then check out the cool entries from around the globe. There are others that were better than mine, I think. You don't have to tell me who you vote for...:) But, if I win they will send me baking supplies to use for the holidays!!!! Check it out! And, while you are there check out a few of the blogs listed there and find out what God is doing around the world.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A walk in the Leaves

Yesterday took a little walk through the leaves. I knew it was going to be raining today so I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather to enjoy the fall colors. I went to Starbucks and got some iced chocolate, it was that nice out, then went across the street to the walking path up to the local pond. The path is lined with trees so it provides great leaf crunching and kicking opportunities. My sister and I used to walk to school trying to find the deepest leaves to kick up as we walked. Yesterday's walk reminded me of those days. And, I came home with just as much junk in my shoes as we used to when we were little! It was fun to just enjoy God's creation and creativity for a few minutes in the middle of a busy day.

This was about as close as I could get and still get all the great crunching leaves in the picture. And, about as far as my camera would zoom and still look decent!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What it's all about

Today I got the question every believer wants to hear, "Can you explain the plan of salvation to me?"!! After our Gospel choir rehearsal one of the ladies asked me this question. A song we sang at our concert last month included those words, 'plan of salvation.' She had been thinking about it for a long time, I guess, but we hadn't had a chance to talk for a long time. (She is the same lady who, after last spring's concert, read the Gospel for the first time because she realized she should find out what it is we are singing about.)

So, when she asked me after choir and I gave her a look she realized that this is not something that can be explained in one sentence. I asked if she had time and I pulled out my cell phone strap-like those Gospel bands with the different colors to explain the plan of salvation. It was her first time to hear it. There was another gal who is a Christian standing nearby so I felt like if I got stuck with Japanese I could ask her to help explain. Another lady was standing there, too, who has an interest in learning more about God, so the four of us talked for about 40 minutes. Amazing! God helped me know the Japanese words I needed to say and gave new understanding to some precious ladies whose hearts are being softened by the Holy Spirit.

Plus, it was a huge encouragement to me! I have been in one of those moods where you wonder what in the world you are doing here, wasting a bunch of people's money, wasting God's time, wasting your own time for no apparent reason. Then, out of the blue, someone I would not have even thought would ask me about my Jesus, asked me point blank! God is awesome!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Persimmon and Nashi

Another great thing about fall in Japan is the fruit. I come from small town South Dakota where plums and blackberries are exotic fruits. We buy huge bags of oranges and apples and big bunches of bananas, those are our staple fruits, add watermelon in the summer. So, when I moved to Japan I found a whole new world of fruit!

One of my very favorite Japanese fruits is the nashi, also known as Asian pears. This fruit is shaped liked an apple, usually a light brown almost tan color, and tastes wonderful. I was so excited when my family was able to be here during nashi season so they could taste this wonderful fruit.

The other autumn fruit I have come to love in Japan is persimmons. I had heard of persimmons before moving to Japan but would never have known what one looked like until I got here. (Before my dad knew what they were, he asked about the orange square tomatoes at the grocery store!) I also got to introduce my family to the joy of this fruit while they were here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I love my kotatsu

Today I spent the day rolling my carpet back out in my living room so that I could put my blanket on my kotatsu table. One of the nice things about Japanese winter is the kotatsu. A kotatsu is a coffee table with a removable table top so that a blanket can be placed between it and the frame, which holds a little electric heater.

I found this picture on Wikipedia. It shows the way we live under our kotatsu here in Japan in the winter. It becomes our desk, dinner table, a place to read and even take naps.

I have had a lovely evening sitting under my kotatsu, hopefully the first of many this winter!